KIBBER : THE HEAVEN ON HIMALAYAS


72 - i clicked this picture on my way to lama g's hotel and it came out to be really amazing @ kibber

Kibber, a very small village located in the heart of the very beautiful spiti valley, at an altitude of approx. 4500 meters, and in a very cold and difficult terrain, and is one of the highest villages in Himalayas. The first foundations of this village were laid in 13th or 14th century AD, and it still looks like one from the same time. The first glimpses of it made me think, does any agency has ever taken note of this place. What one can see here is, snow in the shadows, frozen water bodies, donkeys carrying goods, small children carrying drinking water, fetching it from a far source in snow covered mountains, bad roads, yaks getting ready to do laborious tasks in fields and moving up or down on the mountain passages that connect homes and other places, highly haired sheep coming back from gazing in high pastures, each one of the creatures living here are always busy gathering something for the approaching snowy winters and all seems to be struggling to fight the forces of nature so that they can survive, survival is a big issue here, the moment you stop struggling it’s the moment you fail to survive, and above all cold freezing winds blowing, trying to stop the daily routines of the creatures here, but not too victorious because of the high spirits and the experiences obtained from generations just like some survival guide to high altitudes and freezing temperatures, its  a dusty village with houses built with no specific alignment and just walking lanes.

74 - good morning kibber, the first thing i did in morning, opened my window and clicked this pic

I approached Kaza, the nearby town, and the biggest of Spiti valley, the town was in fact very small one, but still it meets all the necessities of the people living in and around it, I was told by the taxi driver that going to Kibber is not a good option in winters as the temperature can fall up to -40 degrees, but I preferred not to comment on what he said, rather to wait and watch the things as they go by, on the day of Diwali, i.e. 17th October 2009, I was welcomed by my host Mr. Raptan Ji at kaza after a 10 hour travel from Manali, the route that lead to here was both beautiful and breath taking, the snow covered high roads on the Himalayan mountains that make one to reach here, the kunjum paas covered with snow at an altitude of 4500 meters, all added to the super natural feeling of being part of something special, this town kaza located 16 kms away from kibber, is at an altitude of 3400 mtrs approx, and kibber is at more, so the road that leads to kibber is in ascending direction, one of the very important Buddhist Monastery “The Keeh (Ki) Gompa” lies in the mid way from Kaza to Kibber. Reaching Kibber was a great experience and I came to know more about Mr. Raptan, who is a school teacher here in the govt. school at kibber, a social worker, and is running an organization of his own, which is named as Spiti Development Charitable Society, this organization in collaboration with Himachal Children Development Organization is starting up an computer literacy center over here in kibber to impart computer know how to the children, and youths here. I being a volunteer to the same program arrived here firstly to survey for the projects that can be started here and to set up the computer center and teach computers to the villagers and children.

63 - kibber after snow fall - side window

The day I reached here I was attacked by altitude sickness, though mild one, a bit of headache, and some ants-moving-on-my-body sensation. While I was trying to cope up with that, the evening brought a rare-in-the-season phenomenon, and that was snowfall, people say its strange that its snowing in this season, though unpredictable I took it as a welcome gift by the mighty snow covered Himalayas, which are protecting the borders of our nation India since thousands of years, withstanding the cold and the snow, I took it as a blessing and it was inspiring. Mr. Raptan, gave me the best room in his house cum guest house to stay, that was a solar heated, energy conservation room, where the morning sunlight’s heat energy is trapped in the rooms which make them warm for the stay at night. It was really good experiencing such greenhouse effect, which is in fact similar to global warming, but giving required heat to survive the freezing nights, unlike the other which is making earth too hot to survive. The sleep in first night was awesome, too tired after 5 days of traveling, I spelt like a baby.

32 - keep hands on the wheels

Next morning when I woke up, I opened my window and felt the freezing Himalayan winds, trying to freeze everything they witness in their way, the first glimpses I got was of the Govt. School’s morning prayers and Physical Exercise session, in snow, it really snowed too much at night, as I was keeping track of the intensity of the snowfall by the growls and grunts of the sheeps and goats, confined in the open weather in their protective perimeter, just under my warm room. The morning prayers at the Govt. School were high in sound, and one could only either appreciate or get inspired with the small children and their will power to withstand such harsh climatic condition where temperature was around -15 degrees at night and still carrying out their regular tasks of studying and coming to school. Second thing I thought about what if these same students were studying in plains or in warm class rooms, they must be doing miracles.

73 - morning school in kibber

The next task was to go and check the computers which too have traveled a lot to reach here, so I was escorted by Mr. Raptan Ji (even after his repeated request to reserve today’s day for rest as the temperature was freezing), to his organization’s office where there one can see the two lying sealed. Upon checking the systems, we found that the task here to establish a computer center is really a hard job, as the performance and efficiency of the computer systems in chilly and freezing climate is unpredictable until they are provided a temperature controlled room, which is a far possibility, the cables going rock hard, the computer batteries running out and dying early, the unpredictable nature of the electricity and the unavailability of internet to download the required stuff to keep the systems running, added to the adventure. But still we managed to run the computer systems up to a certain level of satisfaction, the rest of the satisfaction that came to me, was from inside, after seeing the beautiful Himalayan village, and the surroundings that firmed my faith in the existence of God, and his mastery of the creation, being both artistic and challenging.

70 - Morning at kibber moving out with lama g, he is holding my laptop and we are moving to his hotel for checking his computer

Then started the procedure of spreading the word of mouth, which a computer trainer is here in the village with 2 donated computers, to initiate the computer literacy campaign, and more of the computers are on their way to compensate the increasing students. The response was over whelming, with villagers coming to bless me, and after knowing me that I belong to the state of Rajasthan, where the temperature reach +48 degrees in summer, they were compelled to ask me whether I feel cold or not, whether I am used to this much cold, I just used to smile at them, saying if not someday I’ll get used to it, and I have a faith that you people will not let me freeze. That all brought a smile on their faces as well, the people here are really good and caring, for them no one is an stranger if they are standing on their soil, Jooley!! The local greeting, is very energetic and fills one with a sense of oneness. Before coming over here I never thought that the people here who are living in the proximity of Tibet, and just approx 30 – 40 kms away from the line that divides India and China, must be speaking the same language as we do, but after arriving here I was amazed to know that not only they speak their own local language, but the fluency and purity in speaking Hindi was amazing, that brought in me a patriotic enveloping feeling that strengthened my faith in the one ness of my nation, and that a national language, may not make people looks similar but it do bind people of an diverse nation.

The computer center has been started currently with 2 computers, and there are around 8 who are coming to study computers, recent talks with the school principal were successful and he has offered us to use the three school computers to be used for teaching the students of school, whoever is interested. This being the initial phase of the proposed plan, is taking some time firstly because of the unavailability of the students as because of the household works and the ration, cattle feed, fuel and food gathering going on for the upcoming winters, and secondly because of the hard ships being encountered in the initial phases, which are general in nature.

61 - view from my rear window at kibber after first snow fall that happened as i reached there

Studying the concerns of the youths here it is found that, most of the youths here are brilliant and are in possession of sharp minds, but due to lack of resources and unavailability of a nearby university, the students or the youths, are dropping out their studies at metric or inter level. Some of the students here are going for correspondence courses from private or government universities. Most of the youths here are willing to study and are showing huge response to the computer literacy program and are registering their presence by the word of mouth, but still busy with the household and field works. In the future along with the other essentials if there can be a provision of a bio gas plant over here, that can supply freely available gas for burning in winters can change a lot in this place, this village has cattle population more than the human population, presently the dung is dried and then burnt, which is not too good for the environment, and the wood fuel here costs 5rs per kg, that is too much, for many of these. Along with it during our discussions, Mr. Raptan told that, if there can be a provision of a day care center here in Kibber, for the tiny kids of working parents, where they can be provided nutritious food, and kindergarten level of education, he is sure that many things would be changed instantly, presently to carry a small kid another sibling of 5-10 years is responsible, which carries the another, feeds it, and takes its care whole day long, and in turn misses many things, that he/she can do in that wasted time including studies.


The first day here when in the morning I asked Mr. Raptan Ji for the newspaper, he told me that no newspaper comes here, as it takes 3 days to reach the newspaper here, and then the newspaper is of no use, the only way to stay connected with the happenings of the world are the DTH TV dish antenna, if there are no snow storms or clouds. Being a computer engineer by education, it really concerns me when I see lack of the available technology which can be introduced here for the betterment of the youths and in turn for the good of the whole village, for example video conferencing, internet, V-SAT, etc. It makes me think, if the technology can not be used at such places where else is it finding a better use. There must be some provision of technology introduction here by some agency, or any individual who is capable for doing so.

DSC02347

This place is inhabited with people who are really good and faithful, seeing them I think that the ill effects of civilization have not reached these heights yet, these people are not yet corrupted by evil human tendencies, and are the most cooperative and friendly humans I have ever seen. These people are neither hungry nor homeless, but in fact that these people are happy all on their own, no one sleeps hungry here, everyone has a home, but what is happening here is that the potentials of the youths and the people here is running waste, the hand to mouth system prevails here, and that makes these people so busy that they do not have any spare time for anything else, it’s a different kind of poverty, the poverty which makes you mentally poor and narrows one’s perspective, one thing that can be said about these people that, they are the one who have the potential and the energy that they can achieve whatever they want, what they lack is a dedicated initiative and a direction, and are unaware of the progresses  of the rest of the world.Being sure about what I have said I have a feeling that hurts when the wastage of potential of youth is witnessed by us with open eyes and silent tongue, individually I can not take it as a matter of big concern to me as I consider myself powerless and the lack of a back standing authority haunts me, I visited this place some days back, and will depart from here someday soon, but during this period I can at least raise a voice as I am not that powerless that I cant even raise a signal, those who consider themselves responsible will respond to it, and lets not talk about the others. I see here Buddhist Prayer Flags set afloat in the sky, and with the belief that the prayers written on them are carried to the Gods, by the blowing winds, God may hear and grant them the wishes they want someday, but being their compatriots and fellow citizens its our duty too that the God must not be bothered for the things, some of which we can work upon together, we the people do have faith in God but now its time for the faith in good ness to be preserved by any possible way because the people here are too good and they must be cared and may their goodness prevail.

3432

The source of my motivation to work here lies in the deep heart that beats with patriotism and a will to service the society and the nation anyhow, regardless of anything, unconditionally dedicated towards my duties as a born Indian. Along with this I would like to thank Ms. Sarika Katoch for providing me with such a life time opportunity, my parents for supporting me for this cause, and Ms. Sukriti for helping me making the decision.

Before closing, the final words are, the temperature here is still freezing, the freezing cold winds are still blowing making shooo-shoooo sound, many a times while going out, I feel like my hands are frozen, sometimes I get really get bad nose due to the weather, I have to wear 6 pieces of garments and then to cover myself in a blanket, and a cotton filled thick Razai, before I can sleep, but in spite of all these things, I have fallen in love with this place, and the Heaven I feel for me is here.

343

— ANKIT PANCH

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Kibber, a very small village located in the heart of the very beautiful spiti valley, at an altitude of approx. 4500 meters, and in a very cold and difficult terrain. The first view to this village makes one think of some very similar 13th or 14th century village of India. The first glimpses of it made me think, does any agency has ever taken note of this place. What one can see here is, donkeys carrying goods, small children carrying drinking water, fetching it from a far source in snow covered mountains, bad roads, yaks getting ready to do laborious tasks in fields and moving up or down on the mountain passages that connect homes and other places, highly haired sheep coming back from gazing in high pastures, each one of the creatures living here are always busy gathering something for the approaching snowy winters and all seems to be struggling to fight the forces of nature so that they can survive, survival is a big issue here, the moment you stop struggling it’s the moment you fail to survive, and above all cold freezing winds blowing, trying to stop the daily routines of the people here, but not too victorious because of the high spirits and the experiences obtained from generations just like some survival guide to high altitudes and freezing temperatures, its  a dusty village with houses built with no specific alignment and just walking lanes. I approached Kaza, the nearby town, and the biggest of spiti valley, the town was in fact very small one, but still it meets all the necessities of the people living in and around it, I was told by the taxi driver that going to kibber is not a good option in winters as the temperature can fall upto -40 degrees, but I preferred not to comment on what he said, rather to wait and watch the things as they go by, on the day of Diwali, i.e. 17th October 2009, I was welcomed by my host Mr. Raptan Ji at kaza after a 10 hour travel from Manali, the route that lead to here was both beautiful and breath taking, the snow covered high roads on the Himalayan mountains that make one to reach here, the kunjum paas covered with snow at an altitude of 4500 meters, all added to the super natural feeling of being part of something special, this town kaza located 16 kms away from kibber, is at an altitude of 3400 mtrs approx, and kibber is at more, so the road that leads to kibber is in ascending direction, Mr. Raptan is a school teacher here in the secondary school, a social worker, and is running an organization of his own, which is named as Spiti Development Charitable Society, this organization in collaboration with himalyan children organization is starting up an computer literacy center over here in kibber to impart computer know how to the children, and youths here. I being a volunteer to the same programme arrived here as the computer trainer to the interested youths of the village.

The day I reached here I was attacked by altitude sickness, though mild one, a bit of headache, and some ants-moving-on-my-body sensation. While I was trying to cope up with that, the evening brought a rare-in-the-season phenomenon, and that was snowfall, people say its strange that its snowing in this season, though unpredictable I took it as a welcome gift by the mighty snow covered Himalayas, which are protecting the borders of our nation India since thousands of years, withstanding the cold and the snow, I took it as a blessing and it was inspiring. Mr. Raptan, gave me the best room in his house cum guest house to stay, that was a solar heated, energy conservation room, where the morning sunlight’s heat energy is trapped in the rooms which make them warm for the stay at night. It was really good experiencing such greenhouse effect, which is in fact similar to global warming, but giving required heat to survive the freezing nights, unlike the other which is making earth too hot to survive.

Next morning when I woke up, I opened my window and felt the freezing Himalayan winds, trying to freeze everything they witness in their way, the first glimpses I got was of the Govt. School’s morning prayers and Physical Exercise session, in snow, it really snowed too much at night, as I was keeping track of the intensity of the snowfall by the growls and grunts of the sheeps and goats, confined in the open weather in their protective perimeter, just under my warm room. The morning prayers at the Govt. School were high in sound, and one could only either appreciate or get inspired with the small children and their will power to withstand such harsh climatic condition where temperature was around -15 degrees at night and still carrying out their regular tasks of studying and coming to school. Second thing I thought about what if these same students were studying in plains, they must be doing miracles.

The next task was to go and check the computers which too have traveled a lot to reach here, so I was escorted by Mr. Raptan Ji (even after his repeated request to reserve today’s day for rest), to his organization’s office where there one can see the two lying sealed. Upon checking the systems, we found that the task here to establish a computer center is really a hard job, as the performance and efficiency of the computer systems in chilly and freezing climate is unpredictable until they are provided a temperature controlled room, which is a far possibility, the cables going rock hard, the computer batteries running out and dying early, the unpredictable nature of the electricity and the unavailability of internet to download the required stuff to keep the systems running, added to the adventure. But still we managed to run the computer systems up to a certain level of satisfaction, the rest of the satisfaction that came to me, was from inside, after seeing the beautiful Himalayan village, and the surroundings that firmed my faith in the existence of God, and his mastery of the creation, being both artistic and challenging.

Then started the procedure of spreading the word of mouth, which a computer trainer is here in the village with 2 donated computers, to initiate the computer literacy campaign, and more of the computers are on their way to compensate the increasing students. The response was over whelming, with villagers coming to bless me, and after knowing me that I belong to the state of Rajasthan, where the temperature reach +48 degrees in summer, they were compelled to ask me whether I feel cold or not, whether I am used to this much cold, I just used to smile at them, saying if not someday I’ll get used to it, and I have a faith that you people will not let me freeze. That all brought a smile on their faces as well, the people here are really good and caring, for them no one is an stranger if they are standing on their soil, Jooley!! The local greeting, is very energetic and fills one with a sense of oneness. Before coming over here I never thought that the people here who are living in the proximity of Tibet, and just approx 60 kms away from the line that divides India and China, must be speaking the same language as we do, but after arriving here I was amazed to know that not only they speak their own local language, but the fluency and purity in speaking Hindi was amazing, that brought in me a patriotic enveloping feeling that strengthened my faith in the one ness of my nation, and that a national language, may not make people looks similar but it do bind people of an diverse nation.

The computer center has been started currently with 2 computers, and there are around 5 people who are coming to study computers daily, recent talks with the school principle were successful and he has offered us to use the three school computers to be used for teaching the students of school, whoever is interested. This being the initial phase of the proposed plan, is taking some time firstly because of the unavailability of the students as because of the household works and the ration, cattle feed gathering going on for the upcoming winters, and secondly because of the hard ships being encountered in the initial phases, which are general in nature.

Studying the concerns of the youths here it is found that, most of the youths here are brilliant and are in possession of sharp minds, but due to lack of resources and unavailability of a nearby university, the students or the youths, are dropping out their studies at metric or inter level. Some of the students here are going for correspondence courses from private or government universities. Most of the youths here are willing to study and are showing huge response to the computer literacy program and are registering their presence by the word of mouth, but still busy with the household and field works.

The first day here when in the morning I asked Mr. Raptan Ji for the newspaper, he told me that no newspaper comes here, as it takes 3 days to reach the newspaper here, and then the newspaper is of no use, the only way to stay connected with the happenings of the world are the DTH TV dish antenna. Being a computer engineer by education, it really concerns me when I see lack of the available technology which can be introduced here for the betterment of the youths and in turn for the good of the whole village, for example video conferencing, internet, V-SAT, etc. It makes me think, if the technology can not be used at such places where else is it finding a better use. There must be some provision of technology introduction here by some agency, or any individual who is capable for doing so.

This place is inhabited with people who are really good and faithful, these people are not hungry or don’t have a home, but in fact that these people are happy, no one sleeps hungry here, everyone has a warm home, but what is happening here is that the potentials of the youths and the people here is running waste. Which is a major setback to the nation, and to the youth population as well and along with it their faith in good ness must be preserved by any possible way.

The source of my motivation to work here lies in the deep heart that beats with patriotism and a will to service, anyone, anyhow, anywhere for the betterment of the society and for the nation.

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Comments
9 Responses to “KIBBER : THE HEAVEN ON HIMALAYAS”
  1. Zorny says:

    I have to tell you this bro, I will never ever spend a single centavo here, so I can gather the amount I need to purchase a roundtrip ticket to India again..

    THANKS FOR POSTING THIS ARTICLE..
    Sheeshh..

  2. Zorny says:

    I am really proud of you brother!

  3. Lili says:

    Wow…I love snow..
    Its really heaven

  4. palakmathur says:

    Nice ideas that you shared!!! True, these people need to be utilized and not wasted. But will the technological advancement not ruin the natural beauty and the humanity in these people?

  5. ankitpanch says:

    We are not setting up industries there, simple things for communicating and learning purposes… nothing else … we are not talking about pouring all ill effects of technology, but only what it needs, yes even i thought a lot about the same thing that you pointed out, and finally i came to a conclusion, that if they can be provided some access to a little of the technology they can have a more comfortable life.. ! Secondly, volunteer activities of students or youth, that can teach good things and subjects to the children and youths there, that is also a way…but imagine that its winter, snow everywhere and all are confined to their homes, cant a video conference lectures provide boon to students who are studying for competitive exams for like in march ? anything can happen, u just have to go for it, RUSSIA is an example, it has provided technology to the farthest and coldest and highest place in its territory, i will not talk of USA as i dont think we can compare our resources to theirs…!

  6. Vinaykrishnan Menon says:

    Dude… u r an inspiration… good going man!!

  7. RAJA RUDACH says:

    Dear Ankit,

    well done. Some time I may join with you in Himalayan tour. I hope you must have read swami Rama’s book ” Living with Himalayan masters” he has narrated similar experience of Himalaya.

    Raja Uncle

  8. Sonia Sebastian says:

    Really good, amazing pics.. Keep it up!!

  9. Sonia Sebastian says:

    Good narration of ur experience. Really good people…

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